Wyrd Daze Six: Zenith’s Edge

For the full Wyrd Daze experience, 
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Zenith’s Edge: Tempest
Chapter One

In the dark loam of this universe, sources of light are few and far between.

Through this loam a Great Lumbricus wriggles ponderously. Ne feels nir way: skin reacting to electromagnetic fluctuation. Sensing something, ne pushes in that direction. Invigorated by chemical reactions occurring within nir clitellum (where six cocoons are forming), the worm’s consciousness narrows to the present. Ne reaches out to the life-source ahead with metaphysical precision, an awareness forming in nir mind of a slowly spolling discworld with four dense orbiting sun-moons emitting intense waves of light and radiation: one white, one red, one yellow, one black.

The Great Lumbricus drifts, observing the world indifferently until the cocoons mature and are discharged, then on ne goes about nir inevitable business, leaving nir offspring behind.

The cocoons ride radiation waves toward the discworld, exuviating as they enter the atmosphere. The previously impervious cocoon casings crumble to release ethereal clusters of softly luminous protomatter. Four of the six clusters are drawn toward one side of the discworld, scattering wide across the craggy landscape. The remaining two drift circuitously to fall upon the other side, one descending into a vast forest, the other straying further inward. Trees give way to wild hills; still the cluster drifts on the wind, translucent fibers pulsing. A wide river snakes across the landscape and beyond lies a vast cultivated area of colourful and diverse flora: Garden of the Lyal.   

The cluster slips along a breeze into the garden, past the vegetative opulence along the shore of the river, over a verdure lawn, past a grove and on to sculpted pathways where a floricultural variety of Lyal stroll, socialising and showing off blooms. One of them spots the soft pulse of light in the sky and points with cupped hand, its petals trembling as it exclaims, “There’s something,” in a shrill voice. “There’s something!” Heads flourishing a variety of corollas turn to stare, and soon there’s a murmur of assent. There is something. Several voices shout, “Cati!” calling out for the Garden’s guardians.

One of the thick-skinned giants strides over to see what the commotion is about, at eight and a half feet, more than double the height of the average Lyal. Nir bulky body is a waxy green scattered with dark areoles, each sprouting vicious glochidia and a thick spine. The Cati, nir name is Tek, spots the cluster as it drifts over a hedge and dips toward a circular patch of rich soil inhabited by six Lyal younglings, little more than short stipes with incipient fronds at this early stage of their development. Tek runs, agile enough despite nir bulky legs. Heedless of usual Garden etiquette, ne leaps over the hedge, but is too late to stop the cluster landing in the patch like an insubstantial sheet, covering one of the younglings. The protomatter begins to resolve immediately, fluxing into the soil and the life sprouting from it.

Tek shouts and more Cati come: two wearing digging tools shaped from hardwood branches, and another carrying a net weaved from thick grass. The rounded end of Cati arms sprout one or more sharp spines, so nirs tools are built to fit. Under Tek’s instruction the two Cati begin to dig a trench around the affected youngling, whose tiny fronds are already beginning to wither and brown. Where nir stipe meets the soil, a clutch of small translucent eggs spontaneously evolves from the protomatter, unseen. What Tek does see is thin tendrils spreading across the soil toward the edge of the trench. Ne gestures to the Cati with the net, and together they hold it taut while the two diggers deposit the contaminated soil and youngling. Instructing the diggers to remain behind to watch for any signs of taint left in the soil, Tek leads the net away from the centre of the garden. Ne’s never seen anything like it; hopes he can get it quarantined before it spreads. The Lyal keep well away as they pass, though the chattering never stops.

Tek cannot be faulted: almost all of the protomatter is quickly removed to a remote part of the garden, out of bounds to most Lyal. But one tiny translucent worm escapes: freshly hatched from an egg, squirming onto the net and through a gap in the weave as it is being lifted out of the youngling patch. The thing plops onto the soil and slithers toward the nearest shelter, burrowing to nestle amongst the roots of one of the younglings. There, it dissolves, and at that moment a great confluence occurs: the merging of Lyal, Lumbricus… and something else.

* * *

Far away on the craggy coast of the discworld, an Eerise sits on an outcrop, wings tucked close to her back, legs crossed beneath her. The space before her is dominated by streaks of pink aurorae, with the white and red sun-moons in prominence. When a thought enters her mind, she pushes it away. Still, she cannot suppress the burgeoning feeling inside that something important is going to happen. When eventually the vision comes, she feels relief, though the experience is often distressing.

Some time later the Eerise comes back to herself, raising her ridged head to a sky now glowing orange as the yellow sun-moon takes ascendancy. She rises gracefully, stretching delicate limbs, and turns away from the edge of the world with a look of profound sorrow on her face. Soon she runs, spreads her wings, and flies.

* * *

Deep in the forest, Aauru sits in his sanctum, dark eyes reflecting the flames dancing from the firepit before him. At the centre of the glade, what must once have been magnificent tree now stands dead: trunk twisted and bent, eight large branches stretching out with a plethora of offshoots like cracks in the ochre sky. Despite its condition the tree is far from lifeless, home as it is to a glorious array of fungi, insects and bacteria. A copse within the glade serves as Aauru’s sleeping area; a river runs by; the whole area marked by his scent. He is master and mystic to others of his kind, the Bestials.

Aauru barely registers the usual howl and growl of his tribe beyond the boundaries of his sanctum. In the palm of his clawed hand lies a small piece of Kernel, harvested from a Lyal of refined pedigree. He considers splitting the smooth green matter in two to make it last, but dismisses the idea quickly. He feels… no, not reckless… a sense of purpose. He carefully pushes the Kernel into a nutshell, squeezes it shut, then places it in the edge of the fire. Soon his snout wrinkles at the fragrant aroma, his heart quickening in anticipation. The Kernel bakes, and finally Aauru takes his wooden scoop and retrieves the shell, standing to take it away from the fire to cool.

He walks over to the tree, his shrine, and sits on a large protruding root, tipping the shell onto the ground and rolling it about gingerly with his claws. Then he picks up the shell and pulls it open, salivating. Still he must wait, or the Kernel will burn his tongue, and he wants no distraction from communion. Finally, he takes the soft Kernel with nimble claws and flicks it into his maw. Piquant juices tingle his taste buds; one soft bite and the Kernel disintegrates, is swallowed. Already he feels waves of intoxication rushing through him, his perceptions widening. He howls excitedly and runs to the river, wading in. He drinks of the waters and immerses himself, auburn fur darkened when wet.

Aauru raises his head above the water, the yellow sun-moon a vivid pulsing presence in the sky. He howls in worship and is rewarded suddenly with fresh vision and instinct. Something ruinous has come to the world, and though he does not fully comprehend what that means, he knows what he must do. There is an other. A Lyal, yet not. He must gather his kind: his tribe and any others that will follow, and attack the Lyal. This will not be their usual savage raid, but a prepared strike. Aauru will find this other and harvest the Kernel, consume it. If he does this, he will be rewarded. If he does this, he just might survive what is to come.

* * *

Leigh Wright is the curator of Wyrd Daze

He is writing speculative fiction in his Zenith’s Edge multiverse:

There are six of them: Normal, Tempest, Wyrd, Nadir, Faust and Zenith. 
They have existed, in one form or another, since the beginning of time. 
If they die, they are reborn again unto a new world…

Leigh’s alter ego The Ephemeral Man makes sonic paintings and strange art.

Leigh on Twitter

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Wyrd Daze Six: Then Space Began to Toll

For the full Wyrd Daze experience, 
access the PDF zine

Then Space Began to Toll

the new sonic painting by
The Ephemeral Man

LISTEN / DOWNLOAD

ft. excerpts from:

Radio Free Albemuth by John Alan Simon

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
by Charlie Brooker & David Slade

Starfish by A.T. White

Edward Elgar Enigma Variations: Nimrod
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Piano Concerto 21: Andante
Royksopp
So Easy
Gregorio Allegri
Miserere mei, Deus
The Orb
Into the Fourth Dimension (excerpt)
LCD Soundsystem
Get Innocuous (electric lady sessions)
Tangerine Dream
Phaedra
The Who
Happy Jack
Harold Budd
Two Songs: 1. Let Us Go into the House of the Lord
Grey Frequency
In a Clearing
BEAK>
Lulsgate
Osvaldo Golijov
Oceana
The Police
King of Pain

Wyrd Daze Six: The Phoenix Guide to Strange England: Hookland

For the full Wyrd Daze experience,
access the PDF zine

Greenstone Tea Room, Damsel’s Cross

It is the nature of war to spawn secrets. While the many military bases found in the county would be the obvious breading grounds, evidence of wartime clandestine activities may also be glimpsed in some unlikely places. However, the small cottage tea room of Greenstone on the High Street of Damsel’s Cross, must rank as one of the most improbable locations to find details of a once classified Admiralty operation.

Under oak beams and amid embroidered tablecloths, fresh flowers and tables burdened with apple butter cream teas known in the county as Hookland Delight, are souvenirs of the strange life the establishment’s first owner, Mrs. Lucy Bowman. If you ask politely about the vintage Admiralty charts, photographs of First World War U-boats and Royal Navy ships carrying depth charges that hang incongruously on the walls, the waiting staff will likely call the current proprietor and Mrs. Bowman’s grandson, John Moore to your table. With a charm and energy that surprises in being unbroken despite the number of times the tale has been told, he draws patrons attention to various letters from the Admiralty and objects on the walls while unfolding the most surprising biography of his grandmother.

In January 1917, the recently widowed Lucy Bowman offered her services to her country as dowser. In an impassioned letter to Admiral A.L. Duff, who had known her father when they both served above the cruiser St. George nearly two decades before, she claimed that her skills as a ‘spiritual dowser’ would enable her to pinpoint the location of enemy U-boats if she were provided with accurate Admiralty charts. Duff, who had been appointed Director of the Anti-Submarine Division of the Royal Navy, responded with an invite to a meeting at an Ashcourt naval establishment.

It is not entirely clear why Duff took such an extraordinary measure. It may have been out of desperation to tackle the problem of the German’s unrestricted submarine warfare which was costing losses of up to 500,000 tonnes per month and greatly eroding public morale. It may have been due to the link with Bowman’s to father or an existing belief in the efficacy of dowsing. However, after meeting her, Duff granted Bowman access to Admiralty’s secret submarine tracking room where with the aid of an iron saddlery needle suspended by the tail hair of white horse, she attempted to track U-boat movements in the North Atlantic.

As various letters on wall suggest, she was successful enough in her endeavours, to be invited back to provide assistance to the navy on several occasions right up until the Armistice of 1918. Mrs. Bowman’s part in the war below waves was kept secret right up until her death in 1959, after which her daughter turned the tea room she inherited into an informal museum celebrating her mother’s clandestine contribution to the war. When pressed by the author of The Guide about the reaction this revelation caused at the time, John Moore admitted:

“Mother did have a visit from a commander in naval intelligence when she first put the letters up. He asked to take them down, but she gave him short-shift and they soon gave up making a fuss, in the end just asking for a picture of nanna’s needle for their own archives. I am only sorry I’ve no talent for dowsing as that thing only passes down the female side in my family.”

David Southwell is an author of several published books on true crime and conspiracies, which have been translated into a dozen languages.

However, these days, he mostly writes about place.

Creator of the
@HooklandGuide

@Cultauthor

Wyrd Daze Six: An interview with Maxim Peter-Griffin

Cover and interior artworks taken from
the British Library Flickr Commons
remixed by The Ephemeral Man

Wyrd Daze Six
(the 26th issue overall)
released on Wyrd Daze’s sixth Birthday
(The Ephemeral Man’s seventh)
6.6.19

Access the PDF zine for the full
Wyrd Daze experience

An Interview with
Maxim Peter Griffin

Drawing + writing about the territory – Travelling on foot –
Field Notes in progress – Psychedelic Geologist

Field Notes will be 128 full colour pages of paintings and words;
a beautifully designed and bound hardback printed on art paper.

What does a Psychedelic Geologist do?

I like to listen to Tago Mago and think about flint very hard.

I gather you had a passion for drawing from an early age –
what were your inspirations?

Asterix – Victor Ambrus – The Bayeaux Tapestry – Ladybird stuff – Commando comics – etc etc anything that was laying around I would absorb – being the youngest of six of a bookish family meant there was no shortage of reference material.

We used to get taken to interesting places a fair bit – prehistoric sites, castles, stately homes – I loved all that stuff – anywhere with a brown sign –

English Heritage gift shops used to have cut out and colour knights – I loved those dearly.

Films too – My brothers were very educational – I saw loads of stuff at a young age – BBC were doing Moviedrome with Alex Cox when I was about 8 – Excalibur ! Seven Samurai ! Mad Max 2 ! – the cultural importance of Moviedrome is huge to me – I still reckon that Mad Max 2 is the greatest piece of pure cinema.

Later I found Herzog movies in the dead of night on Channel 4.

All this stuff brews together – landscape, history, time.

What is it about the history of place that compels you?

History is like having bullet points across time – this happened then, then this happened and so on – I try to feel between the bullet points – a big inky smear of spaces

You’ve described your more recent artistic method as wilder. What prompted this shift, and how has it affected your outlook?

We’d gone away – a little place in the country, an old youth hostel. Family from the four corners, big meals, plenty of beer. Halloween 2016. Maximum autumnal. It was a wake of sorts. My brother Paddy had died earlier in the year, Dad the year before, and before that Mum and aunts and uncles, a business had exploded in there as well – it had been a few years in the trenches. We were sore, battered, but not broken.

I was leaning on the gate – a big V of geese, ploughed earth, the sound of children and dogs capering – another meal being slowly fashioned ( my other brother, Eamonn, and I were on cooking duty – the fat we were using to make the roast potatoes smelt like Christmas, a Christmas from my own past – 1980’s, pudding bowl haircuts, lego castles… )

I’m not saying I was at a low ebb, just empty perhaps – shell shock finally surfacing. Anyway – I was leaning on this gate and something popped into my head – Ken Campbell ! the late shaman ! he said something like “it’s got to be heroic, it’s got to be wilder” he might have said this to Bill Drummond I think. And that was it. Wilder. Heroic. No more wound licking – onwards – forward – no fucks given. And so it was and so it is.

So. from that weekend, 31st of October 2016, I’ve made 1000 + drawings – they are stronger, more direct, riding an attitude. It’s a good place to start from – I’m just warming up, playing the long game – these drawings are the life’s work, I know that.

You keep extensive notebooks, creating your own strata. How does notebooking feed into your art and life?

Well, notebooks are essential – it’s the kind of practice that everyone should had drilled into them from birth – my notebooks are unremarkable enough. Times woken, times slept, who went where, meals had, weather conditions, useful quotes as they occur that sort of thing – because I also work nights, keeping an accurate notebook is essential for not losing track of time, space + place. I can’t tell you much about the night work but it is vital, patience bending, thankless and strange. Kind of suits me.

One thing – I see it on the internet – stunt notebooks. Notebooks for show.
They can fuck off.

You live in Louth, on the cusp of the Lincolnshire Wolds and not far from the coast: how would you describe your relationship with the Lincolnshire landscape?

Love/Hate

The territory around here is heavy agriculture – massive fields, farmers dominion – not enough footpaths – the towns are small, inward looking, middle class aspirations and grinding poverty – cheese shops and crack.

But – I am, for various reasons and responsibilities, bound to this place – at least for the next ten years or so – That means I have to use that which is in front of me.

I love the coast here dearly – it is vast and remote – flat – spirit level and east – the sun rises out of the North Sea. I have seen it every shade.

Do you have any favourite/interesting moments of Lincolnshire history to share with us?

I’m partial to the really old stuff – early stone age – the land was very different then – no sea to the east – just marshes and deltas until you hit the European side -all that got flooded 6000 odd years ago – the Lincolnshire coast was formed – now, there’s an interesting thing – imagine, mesolithic immigrants heading inland as the lands became waterlogged – now look – the present day – the coastal towns survive  because of another kind of migrant population – holiday makers and those who retire there ( who are many ) I really like this. Two differing, nomadic tribes thousands of years apart – all ending up in Skegness or Mablethorpe.

What I’m really interested in at the end of the day, is the space between things. People. Places. Time. I can see the space out of my window – across the road are bushes, then a greenhouse, behind that a washing line, then an apple tree and a wall – beyond that are ash trees on the road to the school my sons go to – livid bright green, it’s a lovely day outside – above that are swifts, they just returned yesterday – beyond them, a jet liner many miles to the south west ( I checked – it’s going from Dubai to New York City ), beyond that – infinite space

Is there a spiritual yearning in your work?

I don’t know.

Have you ever met people who describe themselves as “a very spiritual person”? …. I bet they have a stunt notebook.

What I do know is that I am on the quest – I do not know what for – but I am questing for it none the less. Perhaps the drawings and writing are an aid to my navigation, or at least – evidence that I have attempted to navigate.

Tell ya what I do know – I fear no man and I don’t fear death – that is a good start, I reckon

Sometimes I look at the sun while it rises, while my eyes can focus on it.

Turner was right. The Sun is God.

( a god which serves our microscopic portion of the universe – look to the night sky – other gods are available )

You embody your art and method, and thus have become an avatar of the land. Discuss. 

I’m just trying to be the best Maxim Peter Griffin I can. Hopefully my presence on the territory is fleeting – I’m a passing show, nothing more.

It’s a tricky business – I’ve always been wary of people who introduce themselves as an Artist ( note the capital ) and I’m not strictly a writer or a poet or an illustrator.

I’m a firm believer that titles should be given – earned – I’m not allowed to call myself and artist or anything else – that is for other people to bestow upon me.

One time, a fellow said I was “ The Napalm Death of rural experimentalism “ which is perhaps the greatest thing that has been said about my practices – certainly one to go on the headstone..

What is a typical inventory of your walking kitbag?

Minimal. Water. Something to eat.

If I intend to camp then things get heavy – a sleeping bag, a Polish poncho, a tiny stove – I don’t like to be seen as a hiker or a rambler – I try to be inconspicuous. Lighter travel is best. I don’t like waterproofs – too loud – Leather is best.

I get through a pair of boots every six months or so – I buy them second hand – the leather is better broken in – I wore new boots crossing the Wash – they filled with blood.

Do you use anything other than your notebooks to record your experiences when you are out and about?

No. Notebooks and memory – a few photos on the telephone maybe – Memory is best – drawing from memory is a good exercise – Sometimes I paint outside – I’ve long held the opinion that Johnny Nice is one of the great and underrated British landscape artists.

How often do you walk with music or other audio accompaniment?
Does this inform your work in any way?

I never have music when I walk – only the songs that get stuck in my head – usually pop stuff that gets in – once, walking across the Peak District I had George Michael going “JITTERBUG” in my imagination for 3 days.

However – I do draw with music on – most of the drawing happens at home anyway – German stuff, Roedelius and the like, Eno, Fela Kuti, sometimes ancient blues – mainly ambient things – droney stuff – On Land is a biggy and my wife is having a massive Dylan thing. Idiot Wind, ten times a day. Steve Reich in the afternoon, there’s a Flying Saucer Attack bootleg that is just feedback – sounds like hills growing. Or all those Sardinian choirs.
Field recordings of wind turbines. Popol Vuh. Birds.

Is the content of the Field Notes book established, or will you compile the book once it is funded?

Yes/No

Field Notes is nothing until it is funded.
An idea only.

However – I’ve a huge archive of stuff to pull from but I don’t want it to be a greatest hits – the guts of the thing will manifest in my attitude during it’s making.

There’s going to be a written piece running all the way through it – 15000 wordsish – I can’t write the end though – that’ll be the last thing –
I have the opening quote and first sentence – here – for you:

“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept,
for there were no more worlds to conquer”

Hans Gruber –
Los Angeles, Christmas Eve 1988

Look.

When Field Notes is published, will that signal the end of this project
or will it manifest in other ways?

The quest is not confined to the book.

 I proceed until death.

Onward.

Champion Maxim’s Field Notes

Maxim on Twitter